An assessment of the use of professional learning communities in selected rural middle schools in Tennessee

Martha Ann Walker, Tennessee State University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess a Professional Learning Community (PLC) program implemented in two rural middle schools' math and science classes in Tennessee. This study used a mixed-methods approach. TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) scores were used to compare the quantitative data of student achievement scores of the 60 students who were taught using PLC methods to the 64 students taught using traditional methods (non-PLC).^ Nine teacher interviews were examined for the qualitative portion of the study to determine perceptions of the PLC teachers through a structured interview protocol. Four major themes emerged from the interviews with the PLC teachers, including: (a) PLCs were a positive contribution to student learning; (b) Inadequate training for teachers and school leaders; (c) PLC techniques impractical for classroom implementation; and, (d) PLC effectiveness did not warrant use of the PLC techniques. The major findings from the quantitative data included: (a) no statistically significant differences in TCAP math scores (p=.059) found between students instructed through PLC methods and students instructed through traditional methods; (b) no significant differences in TCAP science scores (p=.156) found between students instructed through PLC methods and students instructed through traditional methods; (c) no statistically significant differences in TCAP math scores (p=.785.) found between students instructed through PLC methods and students instructed through traditional methods based on gender; and, no statistically significant differences in TCAP science scores (p=.156) found between students instructed through PLC methods and students instructed through traditional methods based on gender. Although no statistically significant differences were found between the two groups, the PLC instructed student scored one competency level higher in both math and science TCAP than did the non-PLC instructed students, so it is recommended that for future research this study be compared with TCAP scores from the PLC school to determine if experience gained from the use of PLCs shows a statistically significant difference when compared to this baseline study.^

Subject Area

Middle school education|Educational administration|Teacher education|Regional studies

Recommended Citation

Martha Ann Walker, "An assessment of the use of professional learning communities in selected rural middle schools in Tennessee" (2015). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3723743.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI3723743

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